herald

Thursday 20 September 2018

Crossed wires led to gardai taking toddler

A communications breakdown between gardai and the HSE contributed to a young Roma boy being wrongfully removed from his parents, an investigation has reportedly found.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald has now received a report on two separate incidents last month in which young Roma children were taken from their homes because they had blonde hair and blue eyes.

PARENTS

THE REMOVAL OF THE TWO CHILDREN FROM THEIR HOMES IN SEPARATE CASES ATTRACTED WORLDWIDE ATTENTION GIVEN THAT THEY CAME TO LIGHT SOON AFTER A BLONDE GIRL IN GREECE WAS FOUND LIVING WITH A ROMA FAMILY WHO WERE NOT HER BIRTH PARENTS.

In a case in Athlone, two-year-old Iancu Muntean Jr was taken by gardai who used an emergency helpline to arrange accommodation, which meant the social workers were not aware of his removal from home, the report by HSE national director for children and family services Gordon Jeyes has found.

Gardai used an emergency HSE helpline to arrange accommodation for the young boy, which left local social workers out of the loop as events were ongoing.

The HSE only became aware that the boy had been removed from his home on the following morning when it was asked to seek an emergency care order.

But the HSE instead moved to have the boy returned to his family.

In the second case where a seven-year-old girl was taken by gardai from her family in Tallaght, sources close to the investigation say social workers were concerned the child may have been kidnapped and did not question the actions of the gardai as a result.

The girl cannot be named for legal reasons. The HSE then got an emergency order in the District Court to have the girl held in care pending the results of a DNA test to establish her identity.

DECISIONS

MR JEYES'S REPORT HAS QUESTIONED WHY SOCIAL WORKERS IN THE TALLAGHT CASE DIDN'T QUESTION THE DECISIONS TAKEN BY GARDAI.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter is now preparing the ground for an inquiry into how the two Roma children were taken from their families by gardai, after he received a report from Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

hnews@herald.ie

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